Not much can be said in the turnaround time between a home and home series, especially when both teams have been written out of the playoffs equation. On the contrary, much can be said about the St. Louis Blues organization as a whole and the strange events that have taken place since Saturday’s bout with the Minnesota Wild.
On Sunday, Ian Cole and Adam Cracknell were sent back down through the Peoria Pipeline as the Rivermen needed them to compete against the Hamilton Bulldogs (which unfortunately ended in a 3-1 loss in Peoria). As of Monday, Cole had been called back up but Cracknell remains in Peoria. It’s not for lack of effort, though, that Cracknell remains in Peoria. In Cracknell’s 22 appearances with the St. Louis Blues he scored three goals and was also credited with three assists; on top of these impressive numbers as an AHL call-up, Cracknell exhibited a growing hockey sense and put it in to play executing some great set ups, some effective penalty kill time and showed his expanding growth as a potential NHL level player. Adam Cracknell, however, was recalled in late February under “emergency” conditions due to Vladimir Sobotka reportedly being down and out for six weeks…
Cracknell scores his third NHL goal, Saturday, March 25th against the Minnesota Wild.
After blocking a Jarome Iginla shot off his foot on February 27th, Vladimir Sobotka is set to return in the line up against tonights Minnesota Wild match. After doing some healing and conditioning Sobotka was seen last week at practice but fans and media were told by coach Davis Payne that he wasn’t ready for Saturday’s game but he’d be ready “soon”. Yesterday Sobotka was seen at practice and was activated off IR, therefore Sobotka is free to return with his grit and tenacity.
Perhaps the news getting the most attention, though, was the news of TJ Oshie’s absence from Monday’s practice. It appeared that Oshie’s absence was considered an unexcused absence and many speculated he’d be sitting out for tonight’s game. The precedent was set last year when Oshie’s buddy Patrik Berglund missed practice for the same reason, an unexcused absence, and Berglund was dealt the consequence of suspension for the forthcoming game. *Edited to add: TJ Oshie has been dealt a two game suspension for his unexcused absence and Adam Cracknell will indeed be back at Scottrade tonight to fill Oshie’s place. St. Louis Blues Executive VP/GM Doug Armstrong was quick and concise, not giving any inclination as to where Oshie was or why he missed practice, only that he will be sitting for the next two games. (Though, if you wanted a few ideas as to where some fans thought he may have been go to Twitter and search the hashtag #whereisoshie.) Armstrong noted that while this isn’t technically a suspension Oshie will be watching from the sidelines and he will also not be fined.
Monday’s practice also saw Alex Steen and Barret Jackman return to St. Louis Mills and participate in light skating. Both were injured during the March 9th game against Columbus; Steen went down with a high ankle sprain and Jackman incurred a broken index finger. While neither players are necessarily ready for their return, it’s always a step in the right direction to see some familiar faces, especially after the injury-riddled season the Blues have been stricken with this season.
While Minnesota has been grappling for wins, losing eight straight with a 0-7-1 record in the past few weeks, St. Louis has been riding a mini-high and have won two straight with a shut out over Edmonton and Saturday’s 6-3 success in St. Paul. It is absolutely imperative that the team focus on the good that has happened recently and keep the momentum up; Oshie may be sitting this game out and there may still be some players sitting in the suite above Section 314 in Scottrade, but these are the types of issues the Blues need to overcome. Success through adversity has a name and a face, and though the playoffs are out of the question, that name is the St. Louis Blues and the faces have been the faces of bruised, battered and everywhere in between players on both the St. Louis and the Peoria rosters. If the Blues can continue to pull off success in the midst of distress, including tonight’s engagement with Minnesota, the 2011-2012 season will be exceedingly promising.